Why Pakistan Overturned Murder Conviction in Killing of American Journalist Daniel Pearl

British born Omar Saeed Sheikh was sentenced to death for masterminding the murder of the Wall Street Journal journalist in 2002.

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Daniel Pearl

Pakistan has reversed the death sentence of the man convicted of killing US journalist Daniel Pearl.

British born Omar Saeed Sheikh was sentenced to death for masterminding the murder of the Wall Street Journal journalist in 2002.

Three other men given life sentences over the killing have been cleared by the Sindh High Court and released.

Case of Daniel Pearl

Daniel Pearl was an American journalist and went missing in January 2002.

Pearl had been investigating links between Islamist militant activity in Karachi and Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a passenger plane.

According to prosecutors, Omar Saeed Sheikh trapped Pearl in a meeting with an Islamic cleric.

Nearly a month later, a video showing the killing of Pearl was sent to the US consulate in Karachi.

Sheikh was imprisoned for killing pearl in July 2002 by an anti-terrorism court and has been on death row since.

Who is Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh?

Omar Saeed Sheikh was born in London in 1973. He was detained for being involved in the abduction of four tourists – three British and one American – in Delhi in 1994.

Sheikh was released from jail as part of the demands by militants who hijacked a plane in 1999.

According to Reuters, Indian police later accused Sheikh of transferring money to one of the militants who was directly involved in the 9/11 incident.

Why has Sheikh been released?

The main argument of the defense lawyers was that the prosecution couldn’t prove their case beyond doubt. There have been suspicions over whether the four suspects had any direct role in Pearl’s killing, though there was some proof that shows Sheikh’s connection to his abduction.

Sheikh was widely seen as having connections to Pakistan’s top intelligence service, the ISI, as well as al-Qaeda. He had a part in creating the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group that carried out attacks in Indian occupied Kashmir during the 1990s.

Sheikh’s arrest and conviction in 2002 came in quick progression, at a time when Pakistan was under severe pressure from the US to eradicate terror networks working on its soil.

However, the judiciary of Pakistan has sat on Sheikh’s appeal for nearly two decades. According to some observers, the current ruling has come at a time when the perspective of the US and the rest of the world has changed, and nobody seems to be concerned about the terrorists of the past.

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